A dance feast for the eyes

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GOING to the ballet is like a one-way ticket to feeling Christmassy – and Northern Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast is no exception.

It’s like drinking mulled wine, eating a tin of Quality Street and listening to Nat King Cole, all at the same time.

Leeds Grand plays host to the world premiere of the company’s version of the classic fairytale – unsurprising as they are based at a new building just over the road at Quarry Hill.

The magical story sees evil fairy La Fee Magnifique, played by Victoria Sibson, place a curse on Kenneth Tindall’s Prince Orian, turning him into the Beast – Ashley Dixon – for his arrogance.

Only true love could save him – and luckily for him, that was soon to come his way in the shape of Beauty, played by Martha Leebolt.

Although it takes a while for their love to blossom, it does, and the spell is broken, allowing them to live happily ever after.

I’m no ballet expert – I don’t know my demi-plié from my Tour en L’Aire – but the real beauty of Northern Ballet is that you do not need to.

Complete novices can get as much enjoyment from being swept away in this magical performance as ballet experts.

And it’s a feast for the eyes, everything from the beautiful costumes, the Beast’s dramatic make-up to the imaginative, eerie and fairytale sets add to the aesthetic loveliness of the production.

There were also some comedy moments, supplied by Beauty’s shopaholic sisters, played by Georgina May and Pippa Moore, and some very strange goblin-like creatures in the Beast’s castle (personally I would prefer talking teapots and singing candlesticks to wait on me hand and foot).

Despite the unquestionable talent of both the dancers, choreographers and entire production team, Northern Ballet, like the majority of art organisations, have been hit by cuts that may have seemed unimaginable a few years ago.

Before the production began, one of the dancers spoke of the company’s Sponsor a Dancer campaign, just one way you can help to secure the future of one of Yorkshire’s real treasures. To find out more visit www.northernballet.com.

Beauty and the Beast is at Leeds Grand Theatre until December 31.

For tickets contact the box office on 0844 848 2700.

Lindsay Pantry